Dear Seth MacFarlane,
When it comes to humor, it's difficult not to offend anyone when making a snide joke or a sarcastic statement. However, there are certain boundaries that humor shouldn't cross. We live in a culture where the majority condones rape and blames the victims of sexual assault rather than their perpetrators. Sexual assault is nothing to laugh about. If you're getting tired of hearing about it, it's because we're tired of dealing with its damaging side effects. Rape isn't something that goes away or can be healed with medicine: it leaves lasting emotional scars that will effect a victim for life. When your viewers turn on the television, can you live with yourself knowing that somewhere a victim of sexual assault is triggered by the rape joke presented in the show? That person who is struggling with the after effects of sexual assault doesn't want to have to be reminded of what happened when watching a television show that's supposed to be funny. It may be posed in an ironic fashion, but the truth is, the extent to which the seriousness rape has been belittled is contributing to the proliferation of rape culture.
So that I'm not just making empty statements, below is a list of just some of the rape jokes made in Family Guy episodes over the years (thanks to familyguy.wikia.com):
Season 8, Episode 11; Dial Meg For Murder: A "Breeding Bull" rapes and sexually harasses Peter Griffin.
Season 4, Episode 14; PTV: In a cutaway to the end scene from "Sixteen Candles," it's implied that Jake Ryan rapes Peter Griffin.
Season 4, Episode 25; You May Now Kiss the...Uh...Guy Who Receives: In a reference to Elizabeth Smart (kidnapped in 2002), an interview with her parents makes the joke that she know plays the harp and writes songs "mostly about rape."
Season 6, Episode 2; Movin' Out (Brian's Song): Quagmire rapes Marge Simpson in a fake ad for "The Simpsons" at the bottom of the screen.
Season 7, Episode 4; Baby Not on Board: In a cutaway scene, a girl is being raped on the beach while Aquaman watches, helpless, from the sea:
Stewie: You damn fool! You're more useless than Aquaman!
[Cut to a beach, where a crying woman desperately running, trips over, and a rapist tackles and pins her to the ground]
Desperate Woman: Help! Somebody help, rape!
Rapist: Scream all you want, nobody can hear you out here.
[Aquaman pops up from the ocean in the background, his voice sounding distant]
Aquaman: I can!
Desperate Woman: Aquaman, help!
Aquaman: Hey!...Hey-hey! Let her go!
Rapist: Or what??
Aquaman: Or...or..I don't know man, but you're...you're lucky you're not doing that over here! In the ocean! Or else, or-I would stop you!
Desperate Woman: For Godsakes help! Do something! [Aquaman picks up a starfish and throws it towards them. It lands harmlessly next to them]
Aquaman: Aw, if you don't like starfish you're gonna be mad about what I just did!
Desperate Woman: Oh God he-he-help!
Aquaman: Aw you're in for it now buddy, I got like five fish coming to help! [several fish playfully jump in and out of the water around him] Oh! Oh! Here they are!
Desperate Woman: Help, he's hurting me!
Aquaman: Well, maybe you shouldn't have led him on.
Season 8, Episode 21; Partial Terms of Endearment: This dialogue comes into play when discussing when abortion is "ok."
Brian: What if it's rape?
Peter: Well perhaps she should have thought of that before she asked me for directions.
Season 2, Episode 21; Fore Father: Quagmire attempts to sexually assault a woman and is immune to the mace she uses on him (implying that he is a serial rapist).
Season 4, Episode 7; Brian the Bachelor: Quagmire drugs and attempts to drag character Brooke's body off the set when he realizes he's being filmed and stops.
Season 3, Episode 19; Stuck Together, Torn Apart: A waiter at a bar asks Quagmire if he wants his usual drink with a roofie for his date.
Season 9, Episode 5; Baby, You Knock Me Out: After Lois defeats a competitor boxer, Quagmire is seen dragging her unconscious body away.
The problem with rape jokes is that it isn't solvable by just saying: "Hey, if you're offended, don't watch the show." There's still going to be those rape victims who just happen to turn on the tv and hear a rape joke. There's still going to be people who watch the show and learn to laugh about a phenomenon that has devastated people's lives. In essence, rape jokes on one of the most popular TV shows today is contributing to a culture that condones rape and sexual assault. It's your responsibility to make a change and stop the vicious cycle of rape culture by omitting rape jokes from future episodes of Family Guy.
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